My first speaking gig

Last week went by about (snap) that fast. Sure, it was busy at work – when is it not – but Tuesday afternoon I slipped out of my day-to-day and boogied my way (via United Airways and damn them times ten for now charging for checked bags) to do something I’d been both excited about and dreading for more than a month.

My first speaking gig.

A little back-story: one of the things I do at work is manage our Online events. That’s just a dressed-up way of saying webinars, but it’s a gig that takes more than a bit of thinking and one that I genuinely get quite a bit of pleasure from doing. At any rate, our technology provider (the guys that handle the back-end of our events) invited me to join them on a panel at the Marketing Profs Digital Mixer in Chicago and talk about how we use webinars to capture high-quality leads and promote the actual events using social media. 

In a word, awesome.

I was on a panel with two other people, so there was very little stress once things got rolling. It helped that I made the audience laugh about 10 seconds in, but as this was my first time getting up in front of a group of people and speaking there was a little apprehension going in.

I could produce quite a few paragraphs about the experience, but I’ll sum it up briefly. I met absolutely great people (see here and here), the panel went swimmingly (see the review and comments here) and I’m, to use the technical terms, totally stoked to do this again.



Marketing, poetry, and a righteous Virgo

sculptureWhen it comes to music, over the years I’ve traditionally gravitated towards female artists. Not sure what it is. Of course there are the exceptions – I’m always up for a playlist of Iron and Wine, Depeche Mode, or Silversun Pickups – but for the most part women vocalists seem to resonate with me in a way I can’t quite explain.

Apparently, I like women writers, too.

There’s a site I try and visit a few times a week, especially on Thursday, under the handle of Communicatrix. The author of this blog is a lovely writer named Colleen Wainwright, and I very much encourage you to check her out if you get a few minutes. 

Okay, check her outmight be inappropriate, but you should at the very least read her blog. Seriously.

In addition to serving up thoughtful, funny, and relevant posts, she’s also a complete freakin’ joy to read. No kidding. Side note – jumping around her site this morning I stumbled across something (an older post that’s absolutely, serendipitously, perfect for a situation that’s going on right now in my life) that I imaigine I’ll be writing about soon. But that’s for later.

For now, know this: every Thursday she posts a poem. The topics vary, but the writing is ALWAYS well worth you time. Last week’s poem dealt with Marketing (what pays my bills) and one verse had me nodding my head and smiling. And even though we markters aren’t always successfull at this, her message was right on point.

is the truth of you,
into the language of them:
in the room
on the page
over the air.

You see, it’s when the truth shifts to messages or ads filled with what we marketers think you want the truth to be that we find ourselves in trouble. And it happens all too often.

Photo by Peter Rivera

Seven things…part two

Assuming part one didn’t bore you to tears, here’s part two…

My first duty assignment in the Marines was with the 3rd Combat Engineer Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, Camp Hansen, Okinawa. It was at that unit I learned, thanks to a large block of the substance thrown into my chest, that C4 is one of the more stable explosives. For anyone whose familiarity with Okinawa ends with Karate Kid, it’s an island, a prefecture (state) of Japan, and one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. I’ve often considered going back as a civilian and spending a couple of weeks getting reacquainted. If for no other reason, in a little hole-in-the-wall kitchen called “Mama’s Cooking,” you’ll find absolute bliss in a bowl: Taco Fried Rice with Cheese.

After the Marines I worked my way through college bartending and, in addition to my coursework,  learned the difference between ale and a pilsner, the proper use of a Muddler, and the art of the thirty second conversation. Far too many stories, too many interactions, too many moments, to try and choose one that stands out here. Maybe a series of posts another day if anyone’s interested. Instead, I have a question. This occured easily twice a week and in all the years behind the bar I never came up with a good explanation. Just what the hell prompts people to have sex in the bathroom?

After graduation I had some truly great clients as a freelance writer, but without doubt the darkest, most grueling experience during those years was developing a campaign of print ads for a local funeral home. No kidding. I’m an immersion kind of writer when it comes to advertising. Meaning, I try to learn as much as I can about the company, product, service, and so on that I’m writing about. And having that kind of information rolling around in my head for months was just plain rough. Add to that the almost weekly on-site client meetings and I don’t think I’ve ever been as grateful to see a job finished.

As a writer, I have the good fortune to have  job that’s challenging, pays a decent wage, and I love to do. But the reality is that in many ways, it’s still a job. That’s part of the reason for this blog, by the bye – it gives me the opportunity to stretch and have fun with writing in ways I just can’t do at work.

But when I really want to get creative and shake off the cobwebs I actually shut the computer down. Instead, I stand up, change clothes, then go out to the garage. And build things. Taking a few pieces of oak and shaping and molding and coming away with a piece of furniture friggin’ rules. The picture below (an Amish style step stool) is the current project. A little more sanding and  some finish work and she’ll be good to go.


Right. So that’s seven things you may or may not have known about me. Now, according to the MEME, I’m supposed to give you the opportunity to learn seven things about seven other folks. The problem there is I just don’t know 7 bloggers who haven’t already participated. So, four will have to suffice. What the list lacks in quantity it more than makes up for in quality.

Sarah – What’s on my mind
Designer extraordinaire, Sarah is one of those people who does a great job of mixing professional insights with personal stories, and does so with a sweetness that’s decidedly hers.

Dan – Post Thirty Post
Fairly new to blogging, Dan still knows how to turn a phrase and bring a smile to my face. He’s an old friend, a fellow UT grad, and one of the infamous Thursday Night Boys. I look forward to seeing how his blog evolves.

Rob – Rob Lifford
A former Hooverite, Rob is sharp as a tack and always provides great fodder for thinking. From what’s going on in the industry to what’s happening in the economy, Rob likes to keep us on our toes.

Jennifer – Jenamonkey
Jennifer is one of those ladies you just can’t help but admire. Passionate, driven, and always looking for an adventure, Jennifer’s blog is a glimpse into the life of a wicked-smart woman who squeezes the tasty goodness from life. And devours it.

Can I fluff your ice?

Or, how to meet Jay Leno.

The annual DMA event ended this year with the Echo Awards. It’s a high-end ceremony awarding effective, innovative direct and interactive marketing campaigns. Sounds like a pretty big ‘yawn’ if you’re not in marketing, but I am, so I was pretty jazzed. And, this year’s event was hosted by Jay Leno, so that was something to look forward to, as well.

Some of the winning campaigns were absolutely inspired. Jay Leno was pretty funny. The desert was incredible. But nothing, nothing, was more entertaining than the antics of two of our guys. About halfway through the show our table was getting pretty parched so T and D (both Hispanic – and I mention this due to its relevance) stood up, grabbed a tray from the a table by the wall, and sauntered back through the staff entrance. It seems they spoke with the bartender in the service bar for a few minutes, using a ridiculously heavy ‘mes-i-can’ accent, and fabricated a tale of VIPs and big tips. Shortly afterwards they returned with two trays of booze. Unbelievable.

But the best was later…

Right near the end of the show, both guys stood up, grabbed trays and bottled water, and walked up on the stage (15 feet from Jay Leno and the winners of the final event) and moved to the wing. Apparently, security was there and started freaking out at them both.

T, what a fantastically quick thinker, actually started fluffing up the ice in a bin right there and told security they had been sent up to clean up. He then handed D a bag of trash from a can also right there and told him to get rid of it. Security yelled at them for being idiots and walking onto the stage but then shook his head and stomped away.

And that’s when Jay Leno came down.

T quit fluffing, D dropped the trash, and they asked Jay for a photo. Of course, he agreed, and now we’ll never hear the end of it.  

Funny stuff…